The following, by Byron Clark, was first published in the July issue of The Spark
“Can we manage the tensions between Fiji and Tonga?” that was the question posed in the press release promoting the interview journalist Guyon Espiner was conducting with Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully on the June 12 episode of TVNZ’s Q&A. The question is loaded with political assumptions; first of all the term ‘we’ assumes that there is some universal ‘New Zealand interest’ shared by both the audience of Q&A, and those that McCully and the government he is part of represent. Second, it is assumed that ‘we’ have the right to intervene with the affairs of two other sovereign nations.
The diplomatic dispute between Fiji and Tonga began when Tonga granted citizenship to Tevita Mara after he fled Fiji. Mara was the Army Chief of Staff -the fourth highest position in the Fijian military- and controlled an infantry of approximately 500 soldiers. In May he was charged with mutiny and accused of attempting to overthrow the government. He has been declared a fugitive under Fiji’s Extradition Act. Read the rest of this entry »